FAST at Farnborough
Tom McGhee visits the Farnborough Air Sciences Trust
Farnborough has been synonymous with British aviation for generations, and even non-enthusiasts can instantly relate the name to the great air shows and superb displays from years gone by. And these days Farnborough still hosts the biannual SBAC shows which are a major showcase and sales venue for much of the latest British and international aviation hardware.
However, there is much more to Farnborough than a regular glitzy aircraft showroom, as this location has been the birthplace of many ground-breaking scientific advances, and today continues to be a major research and development site under the stewardship of QinetiQ.
The Farnborough Air Sciences Trust has been set up to create an air sciences centre which will be able to educate, inspire, and make the public aware of the tremendous developments which have taken place at this historic location.
Following on from man carrying kites and balloons, the first controlled, powered flight in the UK was made by Samuel F. Cody here on 5 October 1908, and Farnborough has continued to be at the forefront of aviation development ever since.
Situated adjacent to The Swan public house, the FAST Headquarters is in Trenchard House near the famous 'Black Sheds', where the Royal Air Force was actually formed. This building contains numerous historic exhibits including a 'Whittle engine', TSR2 ejection seat, and many other important pieces.
Outside the building, there is a collection of aircraft and cockpit sections which are in excellent condition. Buccaneer S2B XX894 is still marked up in Fleet Air Arm markings, coded R-020 with 809 NAS. This ex-RAF aircraft was painted in these colours shortly before it was retired from active service as a celebration of former Buccaneer operators. Another Buccaneer is here in the form of the cockpit section of XV165, wearing subtly modified 12 Squadron markings (the bone through the nose is not part of the official crest).
Ex-Royal Danish Air Force Hunter Mk51 E-402 is displayed here, having moved from its previous location at Bournemouth. It was joined in July 2002 with ex-Royal Aircraft Establishment T7 WV383, named 'Hecate'. Along with the cockpit sections of Lightning F6 XS932 (on loan from Hugh Trevor), and Canberra B(I)6 WT309, a small but impressive collection of airframes is present here.
By its very nature, the Royal Aircraft Establishment at Farnborough has had to operate a varied mixture of types in the course of its research, but eventually these types come to the end of their useful lives. FAST is hoping to obtain some of these for future preservation including SA330E XW241, Jaguar B XW566 and Harrier T4 XW934. Some of these were fitted with non-standard instrumentation and systems for their research roles, and many were painted in the attractive red white and blue 'raspberry ripple' scheme which they were famous for.
go to Michael Slade and FAST for their hospitality. More information is
available at www.fasta.co.uk